Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Saturday, March 24, 2007
  New York State Museum
We had a great day today. For the first time in many many moons, our family actually got to spend an entire Saturday together. No work. No family business. Just a day out.

This morning we headed over the hills to the New York State Museum located in the Empire State Plaza. It is a great museum for families, with all sorts of collections. The rock geeks among us really enjoyed the exhibit on the geology of the area and there were a few interesting displays of wildlife, such as moose and beavers.

Of special interest was the Fire Engine collection. My father-in-law is a retired firefighter and has made the lore of the profession a major part of my wife's and child's life. Seeing a truly fine and representative collection is a real treat.

But right next to this display of antique fire engines was the one that I spent the most time pondering (and explaining to a 7 year-old). It was the Engine 6 Pumper that was destroyed in the attack on, and collapse of, the World Trade Center. The WTC display is heart wrenching even in its very limited scope. There is twisted and maimed structural steel from the buildings themselves and perhaps the most eerie artifact is a piece of the landing gear complete with remnants of a shredded tire from American Airlines Flight 11.

It is difficult to view such things for those of us who remember 9/11. But it was clear that most of the kids under the age of 9 or 10 were seeing the exhibit as a previous generation's history rather than a ever-present reminder. As time goes on and the ranks of those who did not watch the events on that day become more numerous, displays such as this will become poignant references to a past era. And, I guess, that is what museums are all about.
Hi Greg,
Thanks for the tip. I went to the museum's web site, and one thing I couldn't find was the cost of admission. (Could it be free?) Also, is there much stuff there that would appeal to a 4 or 5-year-old? How long might one spend in there with children?
I've always been a big fan of that museum - it's a great place that isn't often talked about - and it's free! It has a lot of stuff there for varied interests - the Harlem jazz section is very cool.

A few years back, they had an amazing exhibit of suitcases from one of the state hospitals that had closed down. They found all these abandoned suitcases and unpacked them, displayed the belongings, and found out about the owners. It was a very moving exhibit that had a lot to say about the history of mental health care in our country, as well as the way we viewed women and minorities. Powerful stuff.
Yep, it is free.

As for youngin's, there is Discovery Place and the Carousel.

There is usually some kind of crafting going on as well. Yesterday it was beading.

The displays are all pretty kid friendly with lot's to look at and explore.
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